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Willis Roots: Lift your head to the ‘Rising Sun’

Deeply personal single is important at this time, with everyone affected by the pandemic and economic downturn

Willis “Roots” Knowles refers to himself as an ambassador of good vibes and he is spreading these good vibes into the atmosphere with the release of his new single, “Rising Sun” – an uplifting anthem.

“Rising Sun” channels the feeling of encouragement and reminds people to lift their heads high and hold on to the true simplistic values of life.

“With the world facing all of the negative effects of the coronavirus outbreak, empowering humanity was the focus of this song,” said Willis Roots.

Lines from the tune like “lift up your heads to the rising sun” taken from the Bahamas National Anthem evoke the sense that there’s something beyond the trials people face, and “share more love” tells people that no matter how the road gets tough, that they can all use more of this great gift in these times.

It’s a song Willis Roots says is important at this time with everyone affected by the downturn and the pandemic.

“[The single] was inspired from a personal place for me, because I’m not the only one experiencing this thing. And music is therapy and an outlet for us musicians and artists. I feel when you express these things through music it helps others as well.”

“Rising Sun” he said, goes back to the imagery of going to sleep and having life the next day, which he said is a beautiful thing.

The single is a feel-good type song from Willis Roots, who is known for his more serious writing and rock n’ roll edgy sounds.

“I’m used to writing more serious … rock ‘n roll edgy. It was a challenge in that sense and really important in that sense”.

The process to the final product that is “Rising Sun” took about a month.

“We mulled on it for a while,” said Willis Roots. “We didn’t want it to come from a negative place…Shaun Adderley and Darien Francis, they’re my writing team…it took us about a month to put it together.”

Tony Williams, Star 106 Hits programming director, said “Rising Sun” shows Willis Roots’ versatility.

“His conscious lyrics of hope and encouragement appeal to all of us and is something we can all appreciate at this time,” said Williams.

Abiyah Woodside, who is more of a neo-soul artist provided backing vocals on the track, and Judah the Lion provided the whistling melodies.

Willis collaborated with reggae producer Jason Farmer of J-Vibe Productions and Preston Stuart of Cyclone Music Group. Farmer and Stuart sent Willis Roots the rhythm.

The “Rising Sun” single is available for digital download and streaming on all major platforms.

The only downside in the song’s release he said, is that he is unable to promote it the way he normally would, pre-COVID.

“It’s so much harder to promote because you’re not performing it for your fan base, and you’re not on the circuit,” said Willis.

While he’s released his first single in a minute, Willis is putting the wraps on another single that he hopes to release soon, with the goal to release four song this year. Like “Rising Sun”, the new singles will take him out of his comfort zone.

“I’m trying to be a little out of the box with the sound,” said Willis Roots. “I’m messing with Junkanoo flare and Afro beat, which is trendy in the world right now. Trying to be edgy and out of my comfort zone so when it’s played its fresh and still different.”

But he said his fan base will not have a problem with the new sound he puts out.

With the release of his singles, Willis Roots said he’s paying attention to nurturing himself as a solo artist, outside of the band Willis and the Illest.

“I took a bit of time for me to work on the studio [DuncanTown Studios] project and bring more of an environment and atmosphere to work with talent and musicians, now I’m to the point where I’m at the point where I want to release a string of singles.

In 2018, Willis established the recording studio facility which gave the group the flexibility to work on an array of production projects and collaborations with other artists in a comfortable, creative atmosphere.

Willis is the lead vocalist and frontman of Willis & The Illest Reggae Band, a group of dynamic roots conscious Bahamian musicians which he founded in 2008.

The band held its first public performance in June of that year and has grown exponentially since. The current members include Mandisa Smith (supporting vocals), Hashaun Adderley (guitar/bass), Darien Francis (keys and supporting vocals), and Aaron Seymour (drums).

In 2011, the band released a self-titled album, which included the hit single “Hey” and a music video for the catch love ballad.

In 2013, the band released another hit single and video for “Lion In The Jungle” which feature “Pressure Busspipe”; the music video for the song at that tune garnered over 30,000-plus YouTube views and a feature on MTV’s website.

Over the years, Willis and the band continues to pen meaningful and uplifting songs, blending the creativity of each band member’s musical touch.

In 2017, Willis released “Better Days”, a conscious chant crossed with a “trap reggae” riddim, produced by Stuart and Farmer.

The song was inspired by the realities of the Bahamian and world economies, high unemployment rate, crime, wars, and political corruption.

Willis penned lyrics depicting a world at peace with displaced Africans reconnected to Ethiopia, finally being freed from the bondage of mental slavery. The song’s message conveys that people should continue to hope, love one another, and look ahead to the better days to come.

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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